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Sayidina Abubakar Secondary School has won the 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize in the Global High Schools category for the Sub-Saharan Africa region. The school was named winner among three finalists at the 13th Awards Ceremony held during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

The Awards Ceremony was attended by world leaders, ministers, and other senior-level dignitaries from the UAE and abroad, in addition to 2022 finalists.

The school, a public community-founded institution, was declared the winner for its student-led project proposal, which aims to produce female sanitary products by harvesting raw plant materials and organic waste from local farms. It aims to tackle the pressing issue of early school dropouts within the local student community at both Sayidina Abubakar Secondary School and surrounding schools by improving hygiene.

Through the project’s strong environmental protection component, crop-harvesting by-products, such as banana fibre, rice husks and papyrus reeds, are collected, sorted, sun-dried and then processed, refined and upgraded into two products; re-usable sanitary pads that are freely distributed to students and boxes and paper bags that are used as packaging materials to generate income. This key project element will further enable school participation through economic opportunities for underprivileged students. The project is expected to benefit 12,000 people within the school and broader community for the next 15 years.

Dr. Lamya Fawwaz, Director of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, said: “The Zayed Sustainability Prize recognises that young people are the driving force for sustainable development and empowers them to reach their full potential. The world’s youth are the future, and their continual ability to introduce, drive and inspire positive, grassroots change will be vital for enabling development that is sustainable and inclusive, particularly in light of accelerated climate action where youth are a key stakeholder.”

 Dr. Fawwaz continued: “The Zayed Sustainability Prize congratulates the Sayidina Abubakar Secondary School on their win and commends the school for their inspiring project. While empowering female students by providing them with essential tools to lead a healthier and more comfortable life, the project safeguards the local environment through the creation of income generating opportunities that encourage a circular framework for the economy.”

Commenting on winning the Prize, Mr. Nsanja Siraje, school spokesperson said: “Winning the Zayed Sustainability Prize is a landmark achievement in the history of our school, our community and country at large. We look forward to putting the Prize fund to proper use to support the wellbeing of our female student community. In Uganda, the issue of young females dropping out due to lack of sanitary towels has become a nation-wide challenge. Our fundamental contribution will be to utilise the Prize win to allow female students to successfully complete their education, restoring their self-esteem and improving personal hygiene, while empowering them with skills so that they can replicate the same in their communities.”

The Sayidina Abubakar Secondary School project is designed to provide the wider community with development benefits through the year-round production of high-quality fruits and vegetables in a circular framework, with raw materials that are obtained from the community reused as products. It will also promote vocationally orientated sustainable farming practices through hands-on knowledge transfer.

The US$3 million Zayed Sustainability Prize, which recognises small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), non-profit organisations (NPOs), and global high schools for their sustainability solutions, aligns with key United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has impacted the lives of more than 370 million people across 150 countries, to date. The Global High Schools category on its own has reached and impacted approximately 45,144 students and more than 425,170 people in wider communities, with this number continuing to increase year-on-year.

Spanning the categories of Health, Food, Energy, Water and Global High Schools, the award is inspired by, and in honour of the sustainability and humanitarian legacy of the founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

In the Global High Schools category, six schools, each representing a world region, receive up to US$100,000 to implement their student-led project. Unlike in the categories for organisations, high schools submit project proposals to build or augment a solution they have developed for their school or local community. The objective of this category, introduced to the Prize in 2012, is to inspire young people to become pioneers, innovators and sustainability advocates who will contribute to a more sustainable future.

The Global High Schools world regions are: The Americas, Europe & Central Asia, Middle East & North Africa (MENA), Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia & Pacific.

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